We are very proud to report that the VeloElite teams returned from Windsor Park on Sunday with both the 1st and 2nd place in the overall category with Alex Dowsett’s ‘Team Walrus’ in 3rd.
The race consists of teams of four completing 6.7km laps of Great Windsor Park over a duration of 25 hours, the team with the most laps at the end of the time win. VeloElite Senior Team consisted of James Hyde, Gavin Howell, Brad Symonds and Tom Wragg – the team were supported by Douglas Symonds. VeloElite U25 team included Jack Patmore, James Woodfield, Ollie Bates and Jordan Peacock with the team supported by Lauren Humphreys.
After Ollie Bates and James Hyde headed out first on the course, it became apparent that the teams would need to work together in order to overcome some tough opposition. Professional rider for Team Katusha, Alex Dowsett pushed the pace early on and recorded a fastest lap of 8.42 which won him the lap record. Hyde and Bates both managed to stay with the lead group of seven and pitted after 90 minutes, next up for the teams were Jordan Peacock and National Masters Circuit Champion Gavin Howell.
After just two laps, Peacock and Howell managed to ‘reel in’ Dowsett and were back working in a group with him – the plan from here was to sit in and share the workload within the group … later reports from ex-National TT Champ Dowsett to Jack Patmore was that this may not have happened, but more on that in a minute. After a solid 60 minute stint Peacock and Howell successfully staying with the lead group, the boys swung into the pit lane to hand over the baton to Jack Patmore and Tom Wragg.
Having never ridden together before it certainly made for an interesting opening to a friendship as Tom immediately mounted his bike in a full Cyclocross style mount and jetted off at 400w+ whilst Patmore was left looking confused as to where the time keeper was who would hold him up whilst he gets clipped in. After shouting “Tom, hold up” a few times, the pair formed a good partnership and again caught Dowsett around 2.5 laps in. Patmore pulled up next to Dowsett at which point the ex-hour record holder said “Your team mate and his team mate (pointing at Tom), just tried to rip the sh*t out of me which was quite entertaining,” Jack simply replied that “it doesn’t sound like something his team mates would do” …
Again, after 60 minutes the pair pulled in and handed over to James Woodfield and Brad Symonds. The boys really clicked during their stints out on the road and were perhaps the most consistent partnership throughout the event, Dowsett stood little chance of staying away as the boys worked together and again he was brought back.
The stints continued into the dark at 1 hour intervals until it was decided that Jordan and Gavin would need rest before the ‘Power Hour’. The ‘Power Hour’ is performed between 1am-2am (the second time) and is held on a shorter circuit where laps count as double. The boys knew that it was very likely Dowsett would be ‘Team Walrus’ selected rider for this and knew that he would head out ‘all guns blazing’ with the intention of creating a lead for his team. Due to this, Gavin and Jordan were left out of the next two full rotations of riders giving them around 7 hours to rest and recover before trying to hold onto Dowsett’s wheel.
The plan worked perfectly as the team led the boys out feeling refreshed and at just a couple of minutes after 1.00am the boys rolled onto the Power Hour course. Inevitably, Dowsett caught the boys and performed 10-15 viscous attacks on them. Thankfully, the VeloElite boys held firm for the full hour before completing one further full circuit of the main course just after 2.00am again holding Dowsett’s wheel.
As the changeover took place, disaster struck for VeloElite senior team as James Hyde struggled with a nasty knee injury which would limit his further participation in the race. Effectively, this now mean that the senior team were now only left with three riders. However, thanks to some heroics from the boys, some real grit and determination and a fair amount of Red Bull both teams managed to hold their 1 lap advantage into the closing hours on the event.
James Woodfield and Brad Symons formed a group at around 8am out on the circuit which included ‘Team Walrus’ Chris Hall, during the next 90 minutes (which is a very long time after 22 hours of racing) the boys managed to hold this group together and retain the lead.
After claiming their places as the team’s Diesel Engines, Patmore and Wragg took to the course alongside ‘Team Walrus’ other Elite Rider Lawrence Carpenter of Ribble Pro Cycling. Between the two of them, Wragg and Patmore continuously covered each other ready for the impending attack from Carpenter. With just one lap to go before the boys would pit and just 100 minutes from the end of the event, Carpenter attacked the boys over the top of the viscous last climb. Patmore responded and jumped onto the wheel but Wragg exhausted from earlier efforts and his solid performance throughout the event couldn’t quite grab the wheel and was forced to pit one lap early. Patmore continued to hold Carpenter’s wheel for the next two laps lapping at 10.45 and 10.03 for his final turns whilst Brad Symonds took back to the track to try and catch the boys.
Patmore stalked Carpenter into the pits and handed over to Peacock for the remainder of the event who would need to hold Dowsett’s wheel for the final 60 minutes in order to ensure the VeloElite U25 team would win the event.
Meanwhile, Brad did a fantastic job of holding the gap to ‘Velo Elite U25’ and ‘Team Walrus’ ensuring they would not lap him and force ‘Velo Elite Senior’ into 3rd place. After another superb set of laps, Brad handed over to Gavin Howell who had to dig deep into his reserves to successfully ensure VeloElite retained 2nd place.
Jordan also did a heroic job of continuing to follow Dowsett for a full 60 mintutes and ensured he did not get away meaning that VeloElite U25 would win the event overall.
Both teams did an outstanding job and really worked together to ensure that the boys held 1st and 2nd place. It has to be said, the race was not only determined by the riders but also Lauren Humphreys and Douglas Symonds who both did an outstanding job of looking after the riders, ensuring efficient changes of rider’s in transition and communicating with the riders whilst out on the track. Thanks must also go to High Voltage Systems & Services for the use of our Team car and all of the fantastic members and supporters of VeloElite who kept the team going over the course of the event.
The result is living proof that you can take the boys out of Welly, but you can’t take the Welly out of the boys … or something like that.
Some images credit to Red Bull Content Pool